Book review ‘The Prophets’

  • Writer: Robert Jones Jr.
  • Publisher: Riverrun (Hachette UK Company)
  • Publishing year: 2021
  • Number of pages: 388
  • ISBN: 978-1529405729
  • My rating: 2,5/5


A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.

Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony. 

With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones, Jr., fiercely summons the voices of slaver and enslaved alike, from Isaiah and Samuel to the calculating slave master to the long line of women that surround them, women who have carried the soul of the plantation on their shoulders. As tensions build and the weight of centuries—of ancestors and future generations to come—culminates in a climactic reckoning, The Prophets fearlessly reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.


“My son, some people’s hearts, they just…” He pressed Kosii’s hands against his chest. “They just beat the wrong way.”

Robert Jones Jr.

This took me way too long to finish. I hosted a read along on Instagram for this book, thinking it would be so good and we would love it. But so far, most of us kind of felt it was too slow a read and too lyrical. Normally I don’t have issues with such books but in this case it had its flaws unfortunately.

Apart from that, there’s a really good story! It all centers around the two boys, Samuel and Isaiah. They live and work on a the Elizabeth Plantation (the Empty as the slaves call it) and they are meant to provide for new slaves, to plant their seeds in the women slaves but both boys are in love. And when that secret comes out, they are being shunned. Under influence by Amos, who found religion (christianity), all other slaves are never meant to speak to them.

This book offers a look into the slave trade and the awful treatment of them. But it is also a story about the love between two (black) men living in circumstances that brings them even closer together.

But as said before, the problem with this book is the slow pace and I also often lost my concentration. Especially with all the names, I got lost in a forest of characters.

It certainly isn’t my favourite book of 2022 and I think that’s a pity because it has all the makings of a great novel.


Wat een heel goed boek had kunnen en moeten zijn, is er voor mij eentje geworden waar ik een zware strijd mee heb geleverd. Traag tempo, warrig verhaal (verloor vaak de draad), te veel namen en personages die vaak niks bijdroegen aan het verhaal…
En nochtans zit tussen al dit negatieve een heel goed verhaal verscholen. Het gruwelijke verhaal van slaven, van de liefde tussen twee jongens waar religie een stok tussen steekt, de nalatenschap van oudere generaties…
Jammer want had zo veel zin in dit boek toen ik eraan begon…

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